Does a CEO’s age matter in today’s environment? An article by Sudarshan

I had read this, and smiled past, because this is a question that keeps popping up every decade, at least for the past couple of decades I remember. The question is quite relevant, however the root cause in India is the word CEO, which is viewed in multiple ways:

1) Owner or owners son/daughter

2) Entrepreneur of the new age disruptive business

3) The default CEO – designation for the sake of longevity/loyalty/continuity.

4) The Professional CEO

Twenty years ago 1 & 3 were 95% today they would be 50% (Guesstimates and taking into consideration the way business is moving)

Many of us professionals had a personal goal – I would like to be a CEO by this age of a company in this industry/value by the time I’m xx – some achieved, some sacrificed one of the parameters.

Today many organisations – Marico, Tata, Infosys to name a few have moved beyond hereditary and accepted ownership is different compared to managing. Leading to an upheaval – new people being brought in, performers or value creators as the need be; existing CXO which were content immediately feel offended/insecure and look for a COO/CEO position outside, maybe in a smaller company, which would have never happened in the earlier owner+manager times.

This typically has the professionals – 37-45 age group CEO’s

Then we have the new age companies where valuation is the name of the game. Designations are dime a dozen and distributed at random. VCs talk about passion and all that, but have no clue themselves about the back end, operations and consistency, retention that goes along with scaling up. After a couple of tranches the intelligent ones – flipkart, payTM etc get professional CEOs to run, whilst they remain passionate. Others get kicked/bought/merged based on VCs fancies and are no longer CEO’s but lived their passion/dream for a while.

Again typically the requirement would be CEOs in the 35-42 age group.

So, Yes if you refer to CEO = Chief Executive Officer in the way it is meant, functionally, operationally and practically, the age would still matter. AND this is likely to continue for the next 7-10 years and should stabilise. A good thing from the yesteryears of CEOs at 50+ and from the same industry.

Written by AD
ex waiter, angadia, travel agent, dotcomer, dukaandaar, marketeer, people watcher. appreciates single malt, food, friends